Is university shake-up bad for N.J. higher education?

    Rutgers-Camden faculty and students are rallying against a proposed merger of the university with Rowan University. So far, no NewsWorks commenters support the plan. Do you have any arguments against the opponents?

    Faculty and students at Rutgers-Camden are rallying against a proposed merger of the university with Rowan University. Organizers expect that between 150 and 200 faculty and students may attend a rally at the Gordon Theater in Camden.

    Protestors oppose a plan put forth by a University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey advisory committee. The proposal, backed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, calls for the folding of Rutgers-Camden and Cooper University medical schools into Rowan University as well as the reorganization of UMDNJ and its Newark-based schools into what will be named the Health Sciences University.

    So far, no commenters have written on NewsWorks in favor of the plan. Do think this change is good for higher education in New Jersey?

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    Dan Cook, a Rutgers-Camden associate professor in the department of childhood studies, spoke out against the plan on NewsWorks Tonight. “I think this proposal would actually lessen the chances of creating a higher education value for South Jersey.” The main reason, he said, is that the plan doesn’t recognize that “there is a research institution already in South Jersey, and it is Rutgers-Camden.”

    Many NewsWorks readers agree, citing a loss of prestige by losing the Rutgers name.

    “If the mission is to bring all these institutions together to provide growth of any kind, whether in the city of Camden or the region, stripping away Rutgers-Camden’s affiliation with a globally respected university in favor of subsumption with Rowan seems like a curious way to start,” wrote NewsWorks reader Martin Woodside. “The immediate result of the proposed merger would be a loss of prestige and resources, all of which seems clearly counter intuitive.”

    Janet Golden, a history professor at Rutgers–Camden, suggests that a consortium plan devised by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), is a better idea. 

    “The alternative, a consortium,” she wrote, “knits together all institutions of higher learning in the region, brings greater opportunities to all students, graduate students and professional schools. It leverages new assets, such as a shared science center, that will create both educational opportunities and jobs. Rather than amputating Rutgers-Camden, the state should enhance its outstanding reputation and that of Rowan and Cooper Medical School by assisting in the consortium plan proposed by the Rutgers AAUP and by the many others.”

    Apart from the personal impact it might have on any given individual, is this a good idea or a bad idea for New Jersey?

    Clarification: The medical school being built in Camden is already part of Rowan University. It’s formal name is “Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.” This article may leave the impression that the medical school is a stand-alone entity.

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